• Kelly McKinley

  • Laura E. Pérez

  • Peter Samis

Curating Participation: A Public Dialogue with Kelly McKinley, Laura E. Pérez, and Peter Samis

In this public dialogue, we explore how museums and other arts organizations are responding to the call for participation in our current moment by placing the visitor at the center of the museum experience. How does the “participatory turn” change the role of the curator? How does participation change the divisions of labor within the organization itself? When does participation deepen the experience of a visitor and when does it create new distractions? Considering these questions are Kelly McKinley, of the Oakland Museum of California; UC Berkeley professor Laura E. Pérez; and Peter Samis, of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Kelly McKinley is deputy director at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA). She previously served as executive director, education and public programming at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), where she conceived a new visitor-centered approach to interpretation, collection presentation, and exhibition development, in addition to focusing on community engagement. She also recently oversaw the design, development, and launch of AGO’s new Weston Family Learning Centre, a hub for community engagement and educational programming.

Laura E. Pérez is an associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, where she is also a core faculty member of the doctoral program in performance studies and an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Women’s Studies and the Center for Latin American Studies. She curated UC Berkeley’s first and only US Latina/o performance art series, and has published in numerous anthologies on feminism, Chicana/o and hemispheric decolonial cultures, Chicana/o religiosity, as well as journals and art exhibition catalogs.

Peter Samis is associate curator, interpretation at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). He served as art historian/content expert for the first CD-ROM on modern art, and spearheaded development of multimedia programs for SFMOMA’s new building. He is a permanent member of the open source Pachyderm 2.0 governing council, serves on the steering committee for steve, the art museum social tagging initiative, and continues to produce innovative content with his team for SFMOMA’s galleries, website, podcasts, and the Museum’s Koret Visitor Education Center.